Warren Buffett

Billionaire Warren Buffett downplays chances of China-US trade war

‘We both (US and China) may do things that are mildly foolish from time to time. There is some give and take’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 May, 2018, 10:46am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 May, 2018, 11:26pm

Billionaire Warren Buffett said it is not likely that the United States and China would come to loggerheads on trade, saying the two countries would avoid doing “something extremely foolish”.

Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, made the remarks in response to a Chinese investor’s question about US-China trade relations at the Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting.

“The United States and China are going to be the two super-powers of the world, economically and in other ways, for a long, long, long time,” Buffett said in Omaha, Nebraska Saturday.

“We have a lot of common interests and like any two big economic entities, there are times when they’ll be tensions, but it is a win-win situation when the world trades.

“We will have disagreements with each other (both Democrats and Republicans) and we’ll have disagreements with other countries on trade,” Buffett said about a trade war.

“It is just too big and too obvious for that the benefits are huge and the world is dependent on it in a major way for its progress that two intelligent countries will do something extremely foolish,” he said. “We both (US and China) may do things that are mildly foolish from time to time. There is some give and take.”

The comments come after US President Donald Trump’s recent trade attacks on China including proposed tariffs on US$50 billion worth of Chinese goods and tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium.

A delegation made up of representatives from the Trump administration spent Thursday and Friday in China negotiating possible changes to the US-China trade relationship.

A White House statement issued on Friday said the US delegation, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, “held frank discussions with Chinese officials on rebalancing the United States – China bilateral economic relationship, improving China’s protection of intellectual property, and identifying policies that unfairly enforce technology transfers”.

The statement gave no indication that Trump would back off on his threat to impose tariffs.

Chinese state media struck an optimistic note on the trade talks.

The English-language China Daily saw a “positive development” in the two days of talks in an agreement to establish a mechanism to keep the dialogue open, despite “big differences”, as part an effort to resolve trade disputes.

People’s Daily said the talks “laid solid foundation for further talks on trade and economic cooperation, and for ultimately achieving benefits (to both countries) and win-win results”.

Meanwhile Buffett also implied that he was willing to invest more in China this year.

He is turning 88 this August, and eight, he said, is a very lucky number in China.

This could be the time to acquire something in China, Buffett said.